Gujarat elections 2022: The high-stakes Gujarat elections ended peacefully with voting for the second phase concluding on Monday with a voter turnout of over 60 percent recorded till 5 PM. The second phase, concluding the electoral odyssey of Gujarat that saw a three-way fight, began at 8 am and ended at 5.30 pm in 93 constituencies across 14 districts in the central and north regions of the state.
A total of 833 candidates, including Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), contested the polls in the assembly segments spanning Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Gandhinagar and other districts.
The first phase of polling for 89 seats in 19 districts of Saurashtra, Kutch and south Gujarat, that sealed the fate of 788 candidates, had concluded on Thursday with average voter turnout recorded at 63.31 per cent, which was lower than the 66.75 percent registered in the ame 89 constituencies in the 2017 state elections.
Clad in a white kurta-pajama complemented with a blue jacket, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cast his vote at the Nishan Public School under the Sabarmati Assembly constituency, Ahmedabad, while Union Home Minister Amit Shah exercised his franchise along with his family at a municipal center in Naranpura area during the second phase of elections.
The BJP undertook a high-pitched campaign while seeking its seventh straight term in Gujarat where the entry of a decade-old Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) added a third dimension to the traditional bipolar fight between the Congress and saffron party.
The result of the three-cornered electoral contests on the Prime Minister’s home turf will be significant this time as that outcome could decide the political tone and tenor of Narendra Modi’s 2024 Lok Sabha election pitch.
Of the 182 candidates who contested on the BJP’s ticket, the maximum belonged to Other Backward Classes (OBCs), while the saffron party gave tickets to 28 Scheduled Tribe and 15 Scheduled Caste candidates. BJP fielded 16 women candidates. In 2017 state assembly elections, BJP managed to bag 99 seats with a vote share of 49.1 percent.
The BJP, which has ruled the state for 27 years, will equal the record of the Left Front government which won West Bengal elections for seven consecutive terms till 2011, if it manages to win the Gujarat elections this time.
Beset with multiple challenges, Congress wheeled in its top leaders to drum up support from voters. Congress icon Rahul Gandhi, newly elected Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel are among the other prominent names who led the campaign in Gujarat.
In the six state assembly elections held between 1995 and 2017, the Congress’ vote share hovered around thirties, breaching the 40 per cent-mark only one during the 2017 polls. In 2017 assembly elections, Congress won 77 seats with 41.4 percent of the vote shares.
With its high-decibel political campaigns, AAP introduced a new frisson in the electoral contest, turning it into a three-way electoral fight in Gujarat which has been politically bi-polar since the Janata Dal state unit disintegrated in the 1990s. AAP started its poll campaigning much ahead of the BJP and Congress and was also the first to declare its candidates.
Opinion polls and pre-poll surveys so far have hinted that the AAP could emerge as the biggest gainer, displacing Congress to establish itself as the primary challenger to the BJP and the second largest party in the state.
Some of the important constituencies in the second phase of polls included Ghatlodia (in Ahmedabad district) of CM Bhupendra Patel, Viramgam seat (also in Ahmedabad) from where Patidar leader Hardik Patel contested on the BJP’s ticket, and Gandhinagar South from where Alpesh Thakor fought as the saffron party candidate.
Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani contested as the Congress candidate from Vadgam seat in Banaskantha district, and Leader of Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly Sukhram Rathva was the nominee from Jetpur in Chhota Udepur district.
As many as 1621 candidates were in the electoral fray in the state assembly elections. The counting of votes for the total 182 assembly seats will be taken up on December 8.